August 14, 2009

Must Have: Slobots

mheisler_SLOBOT-Mariner_both_01.jpg

We dig Slobots so much that we had to find out more about them. We got in touch with their creator, Mike Slobot (aka Heisler.) Needless to say we found them all so endearing that they earned our Must Have this week.

Tell us the truth, is Slobot your real name? How did you come up with that particular name?

Of course its my real name :) - Actually, the moniker "Slobot" was added to my real name, which is Mike, when I started making my robot sculptures. It just seemed appropriate as when I would send out my Slobots, invariably I would see Mike and Slobot together and it stuck.

How long have you been involved in robotic sculpturing?

I sculpted my first Slobots in 2004. The first Slobot was nothing like the current crop, being mostly paper mache, but the spirit was there. After that first one I started collecting bits and pieces of stuff and making new ones. It has definitely become something of an obsession.

You also paint them?

Yes, I paint with oil, acrylic, and also pastels. I have been painting for most of my life, being mostly an abstract painter fascinated with color and especially with the process of putting paint on canvas. Lately, about 90% of my creative output is focused on the Slobots.

What was your inspiration?

slobotprint.jpg

My wife asked for the first drawing. I remember looking at the drawing and thinking that I should sculpt one of those, so I dug around the house for parts and made it. Compared with the way they look now, it was very primitive, but it has a special place in my heart, so I keep it around.

Your bots look so friendly for the most part. We are not so sure about Slofoot.

slofoot.jpg

The Slobots are all friendly, including Slofoot. I don't subscribe to the notion that robots have to take over the world and enslave all of mankind. I think we can all get along. Slofoot would never really hurt anyone, but he was definitely created to be protective of his trees.

Your SLOMiCRO-02 bears a striking resemblance to Elmo.

slomicro_pnk02.jpg

Hmm, Elmo. That's funny. I have had several questions about why he didn't need arms, but that's the first one about looking like Elmo!

Each Slobot seems to have its own personality and story. Where does that come from?

It really just seemed natural to give them stories and a life of their own. Most of the time the story comes to me as I am making the Slobot, almost as if he or she is telling me about themselves as I make them. A lot of their stories are centered on very human emotions and experiences, loss of jobs, searching for meaning, love.

Which is your favorite?

sloqee7b.jpg

I think my favorite usually becomes the most recent one I have worked on. It seems like each time I make a new one, I learn something new or the slobot reflects something that I am feeling at the time. All in all, though, if I had to pick a favorite, it would be Sloqee7b. He has four arms, a big LED light in his head, and I think the shape of his head is really cool.

What kind of materials do you use in your work?

I use lots of different things in the creation of a slobot, but may favorite by far is plastic. I try and take items that don't seem particularly robotic, like plastic cups, and use them to build a robot.

Tell us about the Munny.

slomunnyV3.jpg

There have actually been 7 "Slomunnys" of various styles over a couple of years. I just did a post gathering most of them together for the first time on my blog. The most famous so far has been "Slomunnyv3". It made the rounds on the Net, at one site being called a "post-apocalyptic cyborg lemon." The base figure is a Kidrobot Munny, but I heavily modify it, add legs and extend the arms, so that it hardly looks like the a Munny anymore. There is a chance to purchase a custom made Slobot Munny in my Etsy Shop. It is a one-of-a-kind, made to order Slobot.

We understand that you were involved in the Stitch Experiment 626 project at this year's San Diego Comic Con.

slobot.jpeg

Yes, I did a custom for the SDCC leg of the show. Quite a few artists were given a blank Stitch figure from the Lilo and Stitch franchise and asked to customize it in their own style. I pulled the ears off, cut off the arms and legs, and added my Slobot touches. I really like the way it turned out. I didn't get to go out to SDCC this year, but I saw some pics from the show, and I think he really stood out.

Do you have any future showings coming up?

orangetree.JPG

Yes, there are 3 shows on the books over the next few months. The first starts off in Turkey at Milk and then travels around Europe. Everyone was given a base figure to customize in their own style called a "Robolucha". There is a show opening in Charleston, WV, USA on August 20. Info for that one can be found here, and I will also be participating in Toy Karma 2, a show centered on Japanese Toys and their influences on art. That opens September 5 at Rotofugi in Chicago. More info on the show is available at Max Toy. Also coming up next year in Japan is the Kaiju Comrades show. That one is in February 2010 and I am really excited about it. Robots are huge in Japan and that will be the Slobots' first trip to Japan.

How can someone get his or her own Slobot?

Custom and pre-made Slobots can be purchased on my Website and in my Etsy shop. I can custom make a Slobot out of pretty much anything, and am open to commissions. Just drop me a line and we can work something out.

How can people get in touch with you?

The best way to reach me is via my website.

Thanks for the time Mike, and good luck making your Slobots as famous as ASIMO!

Read More in: Interview | Must Have Robot Friday | Robot Art

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Posted by Sheila Franklin at August 14, 2009 8:58 PM
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